Heavyweights feature in Asia’s last eight line-up
The quarter-final campaign kicks off this weekend
Holders Ulsan Hyundai take on Jeonbuk Motors in an all-Korean affair
Persepolis and Al Hilal resume fast-developed rivalry
Asia's race to continental glory and the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup picks up pace with eight teams battling in a one-off encounters this weekend. Notably, holders Ulsan Hyundai take on two-time winners Jeonbuk Motors in an all-Korean affair, while Persepolis and Al Hilal resume a fast-developed rivalry.
Elsewhere, 2009 champions Pohang Steelers entertain Nagoya Grampus hoping to emulate their past glories Al Wadha, meanwhile, travel to Riyadh to challenge Al Nassr optimistic of continuing their good run in this campaign. The four winners will advance to the semi-finals on 19 and 20 October. The final will be staged on 23 November.
16 October Al Wadha-Al Nassr Persepolis-Al Hilal 17 October Jeonbuk Motors-Ulsan Hyundai Pohang Steelers-Nagoya Grampus
Persepolis-Al Hilal Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium in Riyadh
Al Hilal welcome Persepolis in what is the two sides' seventh AFC Champions League meeting, having played against each other six times. It is, however, Leonardo Jardim's hosts side who enter the clash with a history on their side after defeating the Tehran giants in the knockout stage to progress in both 2015 and 2017. While Al Hilal aim to build on their past record, they will look to the goalscoring form of top-striker Bafetimbi Gomis who has displayed rich rein of form recently, scoring five times in the last four games.
Persepolis, meanwhile, can take heart from their amazing runs in 2018 and 2020 during which they both stormed to the final. Having claimed their fourteenth title in the Iranian Pro League this season, the Red Army have their sights fixed on winning the continental title to complete an Asian and domestic double. Yahya Golmohammadi's visitors can count on young striker Mehdi Abdi who scored the match-winner against Istiklol in the Round of 16 clash.
The other attractions
Jeonbuk Motors - Ulsan Hyundai
A pair of arch-rivals on the domestic scene, Jeonbuk Motors and Ulsan Hyundai cross path in the Asian campaign for the second time. Jeonbuk fans will recall with fondness their last continental encounter back in 2006 when they overcame their opponents in the semi-final stage en route to their maiden Asian title. Ulsan, however, will look to reproduce the form which saw them defeat Jeonbuk 4-2 in this season's K League meeting.
Al Wadha - Al Nassr
Hosts Al Nassr, under new boss Pedro Emanuel, welcome Al Wadha confident of prolonging their good head-to-head record having won 3-2 and drawn 1-1 in the Round of 16 two years ago with Moroccan striker Abderazak Hamdallah scoring in each leg. Notable among the hosts' squad is new Brazilian acquisition Anderson Talisca, who struck a brace in their recent 3-1 win against Abha. Al Wadha, meanwhile, will hope new Syrian import Omar Kharbin to relive his tournament top-scorer performance in the 2017 edition.
Pohang Steelers - Nagoya Grampus
Nagoya Grampus travel to Jeonju hoping to continue their fine form against hosts Pohang Steelers, having won 3-0 and drawn 1-1 in their group campaign this June. The visitors will look to Brazilian striker Mateus who completed a brace in the victory against Pohang. The hosts side, for their part, enter the fray on the back of a 3-2 victory against Gwangju FC. Shouldering the goal-scoring tasks for Pohang is young attacker Lee Seungmo, who was on target in their draw against Nagoya.
Despite being 36-years-old, former France and Lyon forward Bafetimbi Gomis has maintained his impressive goal-scoring form with Al Hilal on both the Asian and domestic front. He finished as tournament top-scorer with 11 goals two years ago helping his side to the title. And he has struck another four goals in this campaign, notably opening the scoring in their 2-0 win against Esteghlal in the Round of 16.
What they said
"I don't think we have an advantage playing at home because the countries are close and the pitches are in excellent condition. But it is great I don't have to self-quarantine this time!" Pohang Steelers forward Lee Seungmo
Did you know?
This year's AFC Champions League continues last year's revamped format, with teams battling in a one-off match during the knockout stage.